Induction chemotherapy is appropriate for the treatment of locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck because it allows organ preservation without compromising survival and improves survival in unresectable disease. Radiation therapy, not surgery, should immediately follow induction chemotherapy in potentially resectable patients to prevent tumor repopulation. The results of three phase II studies of docetaxel-based regimens as induction therapy of patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck are reviewed and reported. Overall response rates ranged from 93% to 100%, with complete response rates of 40% to 63%. The primary toxicities were neutropenia and febrile neutropenia. A North American phase III trial, randomizing patients to docetaxel/cisplatin/fluorouracil or cisplatin/fluorouracil sequentially followed by chemoradiotherapy is being performed to determine whether docetaxel improves the complete response rate, organ preservation rate, and survival of patients treated with induction chemotherapy.
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View details for PubMedID 10952434